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Contents: Volume 2 - 5th Sunday of Lent
Year A
March 26, 2023








1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)





Lent 5 A 2023

Our Gospel reading this fifth Sunday of Lent is the familiar one about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. It is so rich in symbolism! I think it also has a very practical side to it and some important questions for us.

How did the gift of new life change Lazarus? What did he say and do differently? Basically, how did he react to this gift?

Although we have not yet been raised from physical death, we have all been rescued (redeemed) from the depths of the spiritual death of sin, actually many times by our God of Many Chances! Most of the time, our sins are not "serious" in the sense of being mortal sins. Even lesser sins, however, damage our relationship with God. Can we actually sit with the uncomfortable thought of being spiritually dead and disconnected from God?

Our God continually seeks us, even when we stubbornly won't even glance in the right direction. Our God is relentless. Our God's love is unconditional.

Will you sit with the uncomfortable thought of allowing God to raise you from spiritual decline, perhaps almost spiritual death? If so, these waning days of Lent are a good time to do so. Let us, each and every person, find the time to receive this wonderful balm that God offers us again either through sacramental confession or private reflection. My favorite places for private reflection include on an isolated sunny bench, or by the shore, or in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The peace that follows reconciliation is the best gift ever!


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Fifth Sunday of Lent March 25 2023

Ezekiel 27:12-14; Responsorial Psalm 130; Romans 8:8-11; Gospel Acclamation John 11:25-26; John 11:1-45

What would you give to have half an hour with Lazarus? That would be a chance to ask him about dying – what’s it like? "Did you remain aware of what was happening? When you finished the dying part, how was death? Were you still aware of who, what, and where you found yourself? When Jesus shouted at you to come out of the tomb, were you glad to hear his voice? Was it all darkness? Did you have awareness, mindfulness? Tell me!" No body ever came back to this world after they died. That makes Lazarus some sort of celebrity, source of information, sharer of experience. "Come-on! Spill it for us who are afraid of the unknown. Is there a place? Is there brightness and light? Did you see your folks?"

Apparently, if Lazarus spoke about his experience, it wasn’t recorded. Perhaps the memory of his passing and death were erased? While our curiosity would like some answers, that’s not the point of John’s gospel.

Then there’s this: Martha seems to ignore Jesus’ proclamation that he is the resurrection and the life. She’s fixated on the messiahship she is pretty certain about. That messiahship was clear because of the signs Jesus worked. Martha’s question was why didn’t you come when you knew your friend and our brother was seriously ill? Why did you ignore our messages? You healed others, why not your friend? Were I Jesus, I would be a lot frustrated. Martha does not get it. This is about more than messiahship whatever that might have meant to Martha. "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" Is Jesus asking us this question: "Do you believe this?" Martha seems to misunderstand what Jesus just said. Her response had nothing to do with life eternal. She calls Mary. Mary repeats Martha’s conversation. John then writes, "he became perturbed and deeply troubled." Even Mary was thinking of Jesus as the miracle worker messiah.

John makes an issue of Lazarus being dead for four days. In Jewish culture of the time, the belief was the spirit of a person stayed close to the body for three days. It was clear the body after three days would not be resuscitated. By then decomposition would have become evident and the body no longer available to the spirit of the person.

John writes about the "glory of God." "Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?" The notion of the glory of God is physical evidence of God’s presence. Do you recall a few weeks ago when Jesus took the three apostles to the top of a mountain and was transfigured there? That is the glory of God. Funny thing: John in his gospel does not include that incredible moment. Those who study this believe John saw no need to include it, as the whole life of Jesus was a revelation of God’s presence, of the glory of God. And this moment at the tomb where Lazarus’ body lay bound in burial cloths, this is another manifestation of God’s presence, God’s glory. Death will never again be the same in the faith of the people of God. Jesus asks his friends to be aware, be sensitive to what is about to happen. This is more than a miracle. This is God being present especially at the end of life. Jesus addresses God directly. This raising of Lazarus is "that they may believe that you sent me."

The gospel continue speaking about a meeting of the Sanhedrin. Our reading this Sunday doesn’t include this, but it is important to understand this as it has serious impact on our coming two weeks. The chief priest, Caiaphas, sets the scene. He addresses the Sanhedrin: "You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people and that whole nation should not perish." And so planning to eliminate Jesus and his message began the planning for arrest, judgment, rejection, handing over to the Romans. All what we remember in the week we call Holy.

Some writers interpret Jesus’ weeping as a sympathy for the impact the death of Lazarus on the sisters. Others believe Jesus’ weeping was out of frustration and concern that his message and revelation of the Father wasn’t understood as more than miracle working and wonderful preaching. Faith in Jesus had not grown to an awareness of God beginning a new creation. In the past two Sundays our gospels were taken from John. A couple of weeks ago the narrative was about the Samaritan Woman – whose name we never learned. As that narrative came to a close, the gospel stated the townspeople came to believe – grew in faith in Jesus. This past week we heard the narrative of the man born blind. In that long narrative, John demonstrated how that nameless man gradually came to believe that Jesus was the promised one. The Samaritan woman was a story that focused on water – sort of as reminder of the narrative of the wedding at Canna. The blind man story was about light – being able to see. And in that seeing, that understanding, realizing God’s presence. In Scripture when a key character is not named it is for us to identify with that person.

This narrative this week about resurrection continues the teaching about the growth of faith. This narrative tells us the truth about Jesus is not understood. His miracles and preaching make Jesus a sought-after celebrity. The significance of this resuscitation of Lazarus has the effect in faith expanding yet again; this time to understanding the sonship of Jesus with the Father. He is truly, as the Centurion proclaims in the gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, "Truly, this is the Son of God." John doesn’t mention this Centurion’s proclamation. John’s gospel proves and teaches Jesus is the Divine Son of God made flesh for us.

A good question to ask after these three weeks of John is what is our faith regarding Jesus and his presence in the world two thousand years ago --- and is he present even now? Next week we’ll witness him entering Jerusalem. We will recall Jesus entering the seat of his kingdom. Even the struggle of his spirit in Gethsemane, his arrest, the bogus trials, the mockery, the scourging, the carrying the cross, his crucifixion – none of that pain and suffering destroys his reign. There is much for us to reflect on in these last weeks of Lent. In remembering, consciousness, and awareness of those events those events are present again. If we are aware of the chaos and violence of our world in these precipitous times, we’ll understand that suffering, pain, cruel mockery, and dying continue. In our suffering, we are meant to rise with Jesus after three days. That rising is unexpected, often misunderstood, often mocked. If we have grown in faith, as did the followers of Jesus, we’ll understand and appreciate Jesus’ words: "I am the resurrection and the life."

Dennis Keller






Ezekiel 37:12-14; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45

‘Jesus weeps’ with sadness at the death of his friend. He does not hide his tears. But then he calls out: 'Take the stone away;’ ‘Lazarus ... come out;’ ‘Unbind Lazarus and let him go free.’ Clearly Jesus is the Master of life and death, ‘the resurrection and the life’.

Death comes in many forms other than our final exit. We may feel that we have lost our grip on life, that we are broken, defeated and destroyed. A kind of death may happen to us if or when we find ourselves suffering grief, hurt, illness, shame, humiliation, separation, or the end of our marriage. The dreadful experience, whatever form it takes, may even leave us feeling that we have no energy left, no future, and simply nothing left to live for at all.

It’s not difficult to see Lazarus as a symbol for us all. Perhaps many of us have felt at times that we too have ended up in a tomb! Dead and buried! Cut off from life and the joys of life! Languishing in some cold dark place! Helpless, frustrated, bound up, and falling apart! Feeling too that some huge boulder is blocking our path back to light, life, and freedom! A boulder too heavy for us to roll away all by ourselves!

A particularly virulent form of living death is the disease of alcoholism. It destroys not only the living physical organs of the patient but also their world of meaning and relationships. This has come home to me vividly in recent years when I was offering support to someone who Is a recovering alcoholic. One of the things he told me that will always stay with me, is that until he finally turned to the Alcoholics Anonymous programme of recovery, he was slowly but surely killing himself.

Whatever form living death may take in our lives, we rarely recover without a great deal of help from other people, help which includes friendship just as much as professional therapy. This is where we all come into the lives of others. This is where we act like Jesus himself when he intervenes in the death of Lazarus and the grief of his sisters Martha and Mary. This is where we stand at the door of their tombs, call out to them by name, and help the ones we love to get up from their living death, rise to new life, and get moving again on the road to recovery, the road to life.

So, it's a matter of being ready to be 'Godsends', in fact agents and instruments of the Holy Spirit, to anyone who may need us. It's a matter of being sensitive to, being responsible for, and being compassionate towards. It's a matter of caring enough, reaching out to, and being there for. It's a matter of believing in, hoping that, and supporting the struggling and stumbling ones, to get back on track, and rediscover that life is worth living after all, and that they still have a lot of living to do. Just as Jesus wept at the loss of his dear friend Lazarus, so must you and I weep at the plight of people who mean much to us.

We cannot belong to Jesus without weeping with him at the tombs of our fellow human beings, and calling them out of those tombs into the light and love of God’s embrace. An alternative Opening Prayer today, that celebrates Jesus as our resurrection and our life, spells out beautifully what our communion with him and one another leads us to do and to be:

‘Father ...,’ we pray, ‘the love of your Son led him to accept the suffering of the cross in order that his brothers and sisters might glory in new life. Change our selfishness into self-giving. Help us to embrace the world which you have given us, that we may transform the darkness of its pain into the life and joy of Easter.’

When the much-loved Pope St John XXIII was dying, he pointed to the crucifix near his bed and told those standing around him, that it was those open arms of Jesus crucified that inspired his whole programme of life and work. What an inspiration it is to you and me as well, to take our cue from Jesus, not only weeping at the death and loss of his close friend, Lazarus, but doing whatever he could, to change death into life, darkness into light, and sadness into joy!

‘But this Sunday Jesus stands at the entrance of our tombs and calls us out of them’ (Richard Leonard SJ). So, for the sensitivity that you and I need, then, to become aware when a sister or brother is close to breaking-point, and for the courage, compassion and generosity to step in and offer our assistance as agents of Jesus our resurrection and our life, the master of life and death, before it’s too late to make any difference, let us keep praying to the Lord!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <>





Year A: 5th Sunday in Lent (The Addict of Compostella)

"I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" [John 11.25-26]

Most Jesuits, in fact I think most people who have done the Spiritual Exercises, will tell you that the most difficult time is the three days which Ignatius asks us to spend in company with the Lord in the Tomb – the distance from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.

It is a cold, hard, lonely silent place, sitting in prayer and imaginative contemplation of Our Lord’s lifeless body. It is the end of Hope, the end of Expectation, the end of Goodness, the Death of God.

And there, in that cold hard dark, lonely and horrible place, Ignatius asks you to confront your own death –

- the limit of all your hopes and expectations.

- the Summit of all your fears

- the End of all you have ever been or hoped you might become.

And not just your death, but also your failures, every one of them.

And your Sinfulness – especially those mistakes and failings that cannot now be rectified in our own lives. All the things (and don’t forget we all have them) that we will never get the chance to go back and put right. Ignatius insists that we confront those things squarely, look them full in the face and see them as they are.

Ignatius does this with a purpose, not just to give us a hard time, but to break our hearts of stone. As he says, the Soul eventually wearies of dwelling only on its own miseries and begins to reflect on the miseries of all those who suffer death, disease, darkness, cold and loneliness. And that is why he gives us plenty of time to explore fully our own miseries, so that we can ultimately move beyond them to those who suffer also – and those who suffer more. And he hopes that, in this way, to have us experience Easter as the first disciples experienced it – as a huge rolling away of the stone of death and evil. So that, when it comes, our Resurrection is not just a personal salvation – it is not just the immortal Ego that is "saved" – but a Resurrection of our entire body and soul to the Service of God’s Way in the World.

A little story may help.

If you ever do a pilgrimage, you will know that the road is a place of encounter. Encounter firstly with yourself. If the road is long and especially if it is hard, you will find many times when you are alone and lonely, as the only familiar person in your life. And you will find out things about yourself. Some of them will please you and some of them will not. Both will be part of your reality.

Next, encounter with the people you are travelling with. You will discover a lot about them that you did not know, weaknesses that you had not expected and strengths that you had not perceived. Those weaknesses may disappoint you bitterly; those strengths may surprise you with joy.

And most days you will meet new people and find new chances of friendship and relationship. A number of my friends have met husbands and wives on pilgrimage. And in all of that you will have to trust that you will find the presence of God.

Well, as part of our training for the priesthood,

we had to do a forty day pilgrimage over four hundred miles through the north of Spain, from Loyola to Barcelona – that’s nearly as far as London to Glasgow, sleeping rough and begging for our food. And you wouldn’t believe the amount of blisters we had. During the day it was so hot that, in order to walk at all, we had to get up at five in the morning to walk until about 11am, when it would get too hot. Then we would have to take shelter in the culverts – little tunnels - under the roads until the heat of the day had passed and we could carry on. Physically, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

But one of the really good things was that every evening I would meet different people from all walks of life (quite literally all walks of life) - old and young, rich and poor alike - all walking the same way and all looking for the way of God in their lives. One evening, I met a man in his middle thirties. And when we sat to eat together, I noticed that he didn’t just say an ordinary grace. He seemed really to pray in thanksgiving for his food. So I went up to him and asked him: "Are you a priest?" And he looked a little surprised at the question and said: "No!"

"Are you a monk?" "No!"

So I persisted and asked: "So why do you say grace like that?"

He was silent for a little while and just looked at me as if wondering whether to trust me. But one of the things about pilgrimage is that it makes you very open with people. So he said: "Because I am a drug addict, an alcoholic and a thief. There was a time in my life when I was so sick that I could not eat anything for 3 months. I thought I would die. So, one night, he told me, he took a deliberate overdose – alone – sleeping out rough in a shop doorway in Madrid.

By the purest – most providential - chance he was found by a policeman – a Guardia Civil - and taken to hospital. While in hospital, his heart stopped twice, but the doctors managed to restart it.

After ten days, mostly unconscious in the hospital, he woke up, amazed to be alive. And, having been drug free for those ten days, he found that he had another chance at life

It was like he had been reborn.

And so he said: "That is when I began to pray - really pray. And now, whenever I eat, I give thanks to God for the food he has given me and for the life he has given me back in which to enjoy it."

I asked a little more and I found out that the reason he had set out on this pilgrimage was as part of a prison sentence. In his country, if you have a prison sentence of less than one month, you can to choose to do a pilgrimage instead lasting the same length of time. This was his sentence for his offences with drugs.

I have known many drug addicts, alcoholics and thieves and I do not normally think of them as saints, but I left this man knowing that I had been in the presence of Jesus. Jesus was very much alive in his heart and in his life.

And I recognized him in the breaking of the bread.

Let us pray for Angelo, where-ever he is now.

And let us stand to profess our Faith in the God who saved him and saves us all.


Paul O'Reilly SJ <>




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